Lights, camera, action: Berg leads her students to the stage


Photo courtesy of Allison Huang

Ella Persky

After two years, The Spartan Theatre Company returned to the stage with two sold- out performances of “Sense and Sensibility.” Elizabeth Berg, the director behind it all, said she was delighted with the outcome and thrilled to begin MVHS’s spring play, “Radium Girls,” based on the true story of factory-workers who contracted radium poisoning. 

“It’s a really interesting drama based on real events,” Berg said. “It has quite a powerful message.”

Although Berg has been teaching theatre for over a decade, she first began acting in plays and musicals in elementary school. Later, Berg said she was an active participant in her high school’s theatre company and summer performance programs, like the California Theatre Center. 

Courtesy of Berg.

“I was an assistant teacher for younger students at their summer conservatory program, and that was when I really got bit by the ‘teaching bug,’” Berg said. Since then, Berg said she has found teaching theatre to be a wonderful combination of the two things she loves: “I love working with younger students and the idea of marrying my two passions of working in theater [and] creating theater and getting the opportunity to teach,” Berg said. 

Years later, directing plays here with MVHS’s theatre company, Berg said she is constantly working to create the best performances possible. “It’s like putting a puzzle together,” Berg said. 

Components such as creating a compelling storyline, cohesion, and historical context are all vital, Berg said. Different shows and characters have different needs, which Berg said she takes extremely seriously, as she assigns roles to actors.

“I try to make sure that every actor in the show has a role that is meaningful to them, and will give them an opportunity to challenge themselves,” said Berg.

Once the cast list is set, the hard work begins at production rehearsals. As the show comes closer to the finish line, Berg begins off-book practice and dress rehearsals. 

“One of the fascinating things about theater is that it can be about absolutely anything, so I really love getting to explore a wide variety of content,” Berg said. “You can really take any aspect of life and put it on stage.”